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Do I Need a Water Softener?

Water softenerThere’s no doubt that the clear water coming from your faucets is clean, but did you know it can contain far more than just H2O?

“Hard water” is the term used to describe water that contains dissolved minerals like calcium, sulfur, magnesium, iron, or others. These minerals don’t make the water inherently unsafe to use, but they can wreak havoc in other ways. Hard water can cause visible stains or buildup on sinks, faucets and bathtubs. It can also cause buildup inside pipes and appliances, potentially causing clogs or malfunctioning. The minerals can prevent soap from getting sudsy and leave your skin and hair feeling dry and dull. Hard water can also affect how well laundry detergent cleans your clothes and how clean your dishes look after running the dishwasher.

If you aren’t sure whether you have hard water, you can request a water quality report for your area. If you do, and are considering installing a water softener, be sure to check with your local governing body first. Some areas have banned salt-based water softeners for a variety of reasons, so you may need to seek out alternatives.

The water softening process uses a specialized appliance, a water softener, to remove mineral ions like calcium and magnesium from the water. Installing a water softener is a convenience, not a requirement for having safe water, and there are pros and cons to evaluate before deciding whether you want a water softener in your home.

The obvious major advantage is the disappearance of the annoyances caused by hard water in your home. Dish soap and shampoo will lather more freely, and you’ll notice that you need to use less soap than before. Your skin won’t feel so dry after a shower. Your clothes will emerge cleaner from the laundry, and your dishes will be less spotty after a dishwasher cycle.

On a larger scale, you’ll find that home appliances will work more efficiently, and you’ll spend less time cleaning buildup from faucets. You’ll extend the life of household plumbing and water-using appliances and use less water overall.

As with any household convenience, installing a water softener does have a couple downsides--cost and maintenance. Depending on the type and size of water softener you choose, the initial price can range from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars. Salt-based water softeners will require you to purchase salt on an ongoing basis. Water softeners, like all appliances, also require regular maintenance, which you’ll have to learn to do yourself or pay a water softener company to complete.
If you live in certain areas of the country that have a higher concentration of hard water, it might be beneficial for you to invest in a water softening system. If you decide to go without a water softener, you will probably need to have your water appliances serviced more often, especially water heaters and dishwashers.

Contact your local Roto-Rooter today for more information about how you can minimize the effects of hard water on your home's plumbing system.

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